Outdoor light is ideal for plants, offering the benefits of full-spectrum light plants require to remain healthy and strong. However, outdoor environments are not always ideal for plants when temperatures drop or when outdoor growing space is limited. Growing plants indoors is an effective alternative when the proper light conditions are provided. UV lights, or grow lights, produce simulated sunlight for your plants, allowing you to continue your garden right inside your home.
Although fluorescent lights were previously considered too bulky and inconvenient, new varieties of these lights make them much more user friendly. More of the light produced by newer versions of fluorescent lights is used by plants for photosynthesis and growth. Look for varieties of fluorescent light called CFL or T5, which can be used on garden carts or mounted on ceilings. Fluorescent grow lights are especially useful for growing small plants (up to 2-feet tall), young plants and seedlings. Fluorescent lights make plants' colors appear vibrant and attractive to the eye, making them a good choice for plants you wish to display.
HID lights, or High Intensity Discharge Lights, are extremely efficient, with some varieties producing 500 percent more plant-usable light than regular incandescent bulbs. HID lights are useful for starter plants and seedlings as well as for full-grown plants up to 4-feet tall. HID lights come in two types, Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium. Metal Halide lights produce blue light useful for all-around growing, leafy green plants or keeping plants small and compact. High Pressure Sodium lights (HPS) make orange or red light useful for flowering/budding plants. HPS lights are best used as supplemental lights, as plants grown under this type of light often end up lanky and unhealthy looking.
Incandescent lights are the least-expensive grow-light option in both purchase price and energy costs, but may not be as effective as other types of lights. These are best used as a supplemental source of light for indoor plants that already receive some sunlight through windows or that are exposed to other grow lights.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use less energy to run than other lights such as Metal Halide or HPS lights, making them an efficient choice. LED lights also produce efficient light, with up to 90 percent of it usable by plants. These lights produce very little heat, reducing the risk of burned leaves and excessively dried-out soil and plants. Finally, LED light bulbs have a long life with some varieties reaching lifespans of up to 100,000 hours. LED lights are useful for growing most any plant from fruits and vegetables to herbs and flowers.